Hello, London

I’ve always wanted to travel somewhere by myself. It would be a grand adventure!

So, during the spring I would dream in between practice question sets and had google flights on speed dial – or actually automatic alerts. Flights to Paris, London, Barcelona, I was tracking them all. It didn’t really matter where I went, the only requirement was that it was a place I had never been before.

Ultimately, I found an affordable plane ticket to London.

– confirm payment –

I had a vacation to look forward to.

Naturally, my solo travel would start with an empty row of seats on the trans-Atlantic flight.

To be completely honest, I romanticized the whole thing, from start to finish. I dreamed a vacation in my mind that was straight out of the movies. Sort of like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love where she goes to Italy, India, and Bali to find herself. She learns Italian and eats pizza with her new-found friends. I thought I would meet people in my hostel, or at the park, or while visiting the museum. Yet, I found myself being seated at the one person table in the corner of a restaurant, a look of pity on the waiters face.

I didn’t come here for your pity, sir.

So, I woke up each morning and armed myself with my book, the map, and my water bottle and would head out for the day. Going to the places I had only seen from the computer screen. I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (twice), the British Museum, Hyde Park, St. James Park, Regents Park, Oxford University, Westminster Abbey, the Shakespeare Globe, Notting Hill, East London, Buckingham Palace. I ate fish and chips in a pub, I ate Thai food in a pub, I drank a very large glass of wine in a pub.

I wouldn’t change anything about my time in London because I learned a valuable thing in that big city. I think it’s something I’ve known all along because if I look back on old blog posts and journal entries, the thing I keep coming back to is the relationships I have with the people who wind up in my life.

It made me sad to think that I would return to the United States and there would be no one to remember the trip with me.

Somehow there’s still grace and beauty in this. Maybe the next time I am lucky enough to travel to London, I’ll tell a story, over the high tea that I never tried, about the time that I stood in the yard during a Shakespeare play, or rode on the upper deck of the iconic red London bus, or sat in a rented lawn chair to read my book on a Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t come here for your pity, sir. But go ahead, pour that glass of wine.


After some lengthy deliberation, I decided this wasn’t going to be a travel blog.

A play-by-play of my trip to London.

I think travel blogs are fantastic ways to share tips and tricks for navigating new cities (I’ve used plenty of them myself), but I think I have more to offer than the research that I did before jumping the ocean.

However, I did think it would be helpful to share some of the things I really enjoyed about my time in London… in case there is someone out there that’s looking for a tasty latte, free bus tour, or restaurant with a rooftop pickle statue.

Stay: 

Astor Hostels – I booked through Hostelworld, their Hyde Park location is large and in an excellent location.

Eat: 

EggBreak – I recommend the Levantine Eggs and Matcha Latte.

Farm Girl – If you love avocado toast then this is the place for you.

Churchill Arms – Iconic pub paired with “the best” Thai food in England.

Piculpeper – For rooftop pickle statues.

Do:

Victoria and Albert Museum – Created to celebrate beautiful industrial design.

The British Museum – Read: The Rosetta Stone is here.

Go see as many Royal Parks as possible – Regents Park is my favorite.

Try out this free London bus tour – Buy yourself an oyster card and hop on and off.

St. Pauls Cathedral – Expensive, but well worth it

Get tickets to see something at the Globe

Sleep Under the Stars

At least once in your life.

A few weeks ago I was up in Winter Park and we decided it would be the perfect weekend to hang up the hammock. With the gentle sway I fell asleep between the trees and under the stars.

There is a short list of places that I have felt vulnerable, but also at peace. There’s something about opening yourself up to the things that scare you, but will leave you wanting more.

As I’m typing this I’m sitting in the airport. Not that abnormal, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to fly places because there are a lot of people in the world who only dream of this.

I’m going to London. By myself.

I’m scared, excited and desperately trying to soak everything in. I’ve wanted to solo travel for the longest time, but I’ve always been too chicken. This summer the chance presented itself and I jumped. Or, cautiously dipped my toe in the water and then jumped.

I feel vulnerable. I feel at peace. See you when I get back.

Bellingham, WA

The breeze coming off the bay was cool, especially in the shade. The tall trees shielding the bright sun from my pale skin. It had been hot and dry in Denver leading up to this trip, with the temperatures approaching 100 every day; wildfires raging in southern Colorado, national forests closed to humans.

It was a bad winter. It’s going to be a bad summer.

But, our Leah was graduating from college and so the Huey’s [Wirths, Petersen’s, Gordon’s and Kallin’s] trekked to the Pacific-Northwest. Apparently, if you live in Bellingham, Washington you become a “Bellinghamster”. Like if you live in Colorado long enough you become a “Coloradan”. I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks and my stomach burned when Leah told me that’s what they call themselves. Yet, the name couldn’t be more perfect for the small town, tucked into north-western Washington, two hours north of Seattle and one hour south of Canada. The bay to the west with the Pacific Ocean just a bit further, the North Cascades to the east.

Bellingham is beautiful.


I’ve been to visit Leah at school once before. A few years ago, when she was still living in the dorms, Anna and I took a sister trip out to see her. We flew to Seattle and rode the Amtrak up the coast, stayed in a hotel and walked everywhere with Leah. She carefully showed us her new school, where she was taking classes and studying, introduced us to her friends and brought us down to the boardwalk.

A long weekend full of exploring.

I missed my flight back to Denver. I thought I booked my ticket for Monday, but to my dismay at 5 am I learned my plane had left 24 hours earlier.

It was okay. There’s always a plan B. We rolled with the punches.


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This time we chased the sunset from Denver to Seattle, spent too short of time catching up with good friends in Seattle and drove up to Bellingham. This time I watched fields and hills flying by the window of the car.

On Friday, Leah presented her Honors Thesis. The research she’s been a part of for the last few years – building a product that would help people that need large quantities of blood transfusions not have to depend on donors for a supply. Some smart stuff going on in that girl’s head.

Next, we grabbed lunch at Aslan Brewing (YUM – I highly recommend the Hawaiian Pork Tacos) and headed to the house we were staying in at Lake Whatcom for naps. The front deck had these glass banisters so you could sit and watch the deer coming through the yard for a snack and feel the breeze blow across the lake. Peace and rest came over me for the first time in the last few months, as I sat and simply listened to the wind rustle the leaves on the trees and reveling in the beauty.

Graduation and a Thai dinner were in store for us on Saturday, and kayaking [we rented from here — Community Boating Center] in the Bellingham Bay and a salmon dinner was on the menu for Sunday. It was good eatin’ this weekend.

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At times, things seemed a little crazy. I guess it sort of comes with the territory when you bring together 11 adults. Some things didn’t always go as planned, and if there wasn’t already a plan B, we quickly came up with one. That’s called, “thinking on your feet”.

It wasn’t a perfect trip, because everything went flawlessly, it was a perfect trip because of the people who joined in. There was grace in the ways we handled each other’s imperfections and beauty in the way we celebrated.

One of the first lines of Bob Goff’s new book, Everybody, Always says, “It’s given me a lot of comfort knowing that we’re all rough drafts of the people we’re still becoming”. Maybe instead of a red pen of judgment, we should read through our friends’ rough drafts with a softer color like purple, or aqua – grace and truth.

The gentle breeze in Bellingham reminded me of this practice of patience.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Home to dust, cacti, and rocks. Capitol Reef National Park is a little know plot of land stuck between Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Canyonlands National Park. Southern Utah is filled with a collection of canyons and desert and starry night skies. This was our destination as we hit I-70 early one Saturday morning to kick-start our #springbreak2018.

The plan was to car-camp the first night, followed by two nights out on the Lower Muley Twist Canyon. After checking in at the Visitors Center to register and get a permit for backpacking we decided to change our plans. [You need a permit to backpack at Capitol Reef, but they are free and as far as I could tell, there’s no limit on the number of permits that they give out]. The ranger told us that Capitol Reef was at 25% of their normal rainfall for the year. In a place that’s already strapped for water, this means there is even less to go around. She shared with us that Lower Muley Twist had no water – aka probably a bad idea to go there, unless you want to carry three days worth of water! That sounds heavy. The ranger did have reports that the Halls Creek Narrows trail had water, so it was there we set our sights on.

That first night we camped at a small, limited resource campground – Cedar Mesa – where our friends were able to find us after dark. We woke up the next morning, split up our food among packs and drove to the trailhead. The first part of the hike brought us down from the rim of the canyon to the wash at the bottom. From there, the hike twists and turns as it followed the dry river bed. It was so very sandy! Try carrying a pack with your next two days’ supplies along the beach. Despite the extra challenge, it sure was beautiful. That first day, we broke for lunch at this red rock and then kept trekking down the trail until we got to the mouth of the Halls Creek Narrows where the first drinkable water appeared.

With the sun rising on the canyon walls overhead, we cooked up some oatmeal and selected what would come with us on our day hike through the narrows section. The day before we ran into another person who told us that he encountered some deeper water that he had to wade through. So, we left our campsite preparing to get a little wet. Shortly after entering the narrows we ran into another person who said he found water that we all the way up to his neck! This was a very tall man. You bet we were a little nervous because we didn’t know who to believe about how deep the water would actually get, but we pressed on anyway.

In the narrows, the canyon walls loom directly overhead. They make you feel small, your problems insignificant. The quiet echo as your voice bounces off the smooth rock and the trickle of water at your feet. These are the sounds of the narrows.

I’m not sure where one of our travelers found water up to his neck because we never waded past our hips.

The last night of the trip, we camped out beside the dried wash. Stars overhead and sand underneath.

A break from school, a break from the real world, an escape into nature.

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Perspective//

In a brief moment above the water, I thought I would take a breath of air before plunging back under.

We started back at school on January 2nd. Winter break was the most relaxing, yet busy, two weeks. I managed to go yo-yo skiing, backcountry skiing, watch an absurd amount of the Crown and get everyone to do my bidding for a few days as I recovered from wisdom teeth surgery.

Since January 2nd, I’ve had two exams. I have two more exams next week.

It’s zero-to-100.

I signed up for this. Some days, I see pictures of my friend backpacking through Southeast Asia and I think to myself, “What am I doing????” But then I slap myself around because I’m walking through my dream right now. It’s easy to let the hours sitting in the lecture hall get to you as you’re trying to comprehend the endless waves of material crashing on your head.

Last semester we got our preceptors – doctors working in our community who have offered to take us under their wings and help form us, mentor us, lead us in this profession. My doc lets me go into the rooms before her. I’m practicing the basics, like taking vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate) and talking to patients. Then, I go and present to her what I’ve learned. There’s the handoff, the H&P, the oral presentation, a SOAP note.

Last week, I saw a patient and the next day there was a reference to her disorder in my lecture notes. Last semester, I learned about some diseases I never thought I would see. I thought it would be a disease unicorn, something that only existed in the textbooks or would show up on Step [I guess even a unicorn is less real than that, but you get the idea]. Then I stepped into a patient’s room and what do you think they were living with every day? These moments bring the lecture hall into perspective.

Two years ago, I started this blog. To bring perspective. Since then I hiked under a shower of ice, bought a crock pot, traveled to Minneapolis, Thailand, Utah, and San Diego to name a few. We explored what it meant to love people with everything we have, reminded ourselves that comparison is a thief, and adjusted to life as a medical student.

That’s a lot of perspective.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m still gonna go searching for some truth in this world. For some beauty and some grace. Thank you for reading along.

 

Thailand, Part 3

It feels like being in Thailand was forever ago. Not just a few months past, but years. The hustle of the everyday has snuck back into my life, and don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying every second, but the memories of a place on the other side of the world feel just beyond the tips of my fingers. Most days the smells, sights and sounds of Bangkok have faded and the colors have lost their brilliance. Then there are moments when I feel the breeze on my skin and I remember the open windows of bus no 1.

This is it, the third and final installment of our trip to Thailand. [Here is part 1 and part 2 if you missed out]


From Chiang Mai we traveled down south, to the Andaman Sea. We flew first to Krabi Town where we had arranged a bus transfer to the island of Koh Lanta. Ask anyone in Thailand about Lanta and the first thing they will say is, “Oh, you want to chill. Lanta is chill”. They were all surprised we didn’t want to go to Koh Pi Pi [a popular tourist destination], but we intentionally chose Lanta; seeking a relaxing island to counterbalance the buzz of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

The Andaman Sea is known for it’s towering limestone cliffs and turquoise green waters. Indeed, one of the first sights we spotted outside the plane windows were these monster cliffs, towering straight up out of the ground. A climber’s paradise.

At the airport we were picked up by a local and driven to the bus depot. Usually there are boats that travel between the islands, however, during the rainy season the boat schedule becomes quite limited and some routes are shut down altogether. Lanta is not a very popular island so it’s a little more difficult to access. That being said, we had no problem booking a bus and ~2 hours later we were dropped off outside of our hostel, Blanco. Cute hammocks swung between the trees in the common area, nice tidy rooms and the beach was only a short walk away.

First things first. We changed into our swimsuits and headed for Long Beach. Talk about shocking though. Repeatedly we were told about the beauty of Koh Lanta, yet upon reaching the beach we discovered that it was covered in trash. Plastic bottles and wrappers littered the coast line. Here we were, in paradise, and filth was washing up on shore as people discarded their waste. It was especially convicting as we had been drinking from those same plastic water bottles for the duration of our trip. We brought with us reusable bottles, but neglected to bring a proper filtration system. I felt that I was part of the problem. I was angry and sad, but I also didn’t want to get sick from drinking unfiltered water. I wasn’t doing my part to protect this piece of the world.

After wrestling with this idea of pollution and talking about how we could do our part to help reduce it we were able to also see Long Beach for what it is – beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful. We walked and found some beanbags at a local resort that weren’t being used and commandeered them for the rest of the afternoon. Slipping in and out of sleep, reading our books and occasionally cooling off in the ocean. Lingering long enough to watch the sunset over Koh Pi Pi, a blue and purple hue cast across the horizon. We fell asleep on our first night to the rain splattering on the roof over our heads.

Day 2, on Lanta and we decided to splurge and go stay in a resort. We upgraded to the Lanta Sand Resort and Spa just a little further down Long Beach.

Oh my.

We stayed in a villa with an outdoor bathroom, seconds from a clean beach and swimming pool. Back to the beach for more lounging, swimming and another epic sunset.

Day 3, we rented motorbikes. Perhaps this was my favorite day of the entire trip. I’ve talked a lot about how I enjoyed the moments where I felt self-sufficient and independent; renting the motorbikes was the epitome of this feeling. Honestly, I was a little nervous at first having never ridden a moped before, but after a few practice laps on the hotel driveway we motored off down the road with a grin plastered from ear-to-ear.

My right hand turned the throttle and the wind blew through my hair. Riding along I remember feeling my face break into a smile and a laugh erupt from my stomach. It was exhilarating. With this new-found freedom we were able to travel to the opposite side of the island. Koh Lanta is quite large and there was no way we could have walked to the other side, but with the help of the mopeds we motored around and discovered the east coastline.

From Koh Lanta, we bused to the city of Ao Nang to catch a long-tail boat to Railay Beach [only accessible by boat]. We waited 30 minutes for 10 people to purchase boat tickets and then were pointed in the direction of the water, “Your boat is out there”.

Oh okay….so we walked to the boat. Through the waves.

The captain jumped out and started walking towards us while beckoning us into the ocean. He also kept motioning to his upper thigh saying, “It only goes up to here”. HA! I mistakenly chose to wear white linen shorts and laughed thinking that they would stay dry. With no other choice but to walk to the boat we hoisted our bags over our heads and plunged through the waves. After arriving at Railay Beach we repeated the process, but backwards toward land.

At Railay Beach we rented a 3-person kayak and paddled out into the ocean, among the cliffs. There was one cluster that we floated in between, two rocks reached down as the waves crashed into their bases, bird song and bug chirps drifted through the air from the plants growing from the rock. A perfect end to an adventure.


I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world. To explore another culture, to spend time with my sister’s and to challenge my comfort zone. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Now, back to the drawing boards.

 

Thailand, Part 2

The suspense has been building. Are you ready to hear more of my trip to Thailand?

Last we talked, my sisters and I boarded a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was 7 PM and we were scheduled to arrive in the northern station the following morning around 9 AM. There are a couple of different options for this overnight train when booking your tickets, but we chose the #13 because the sun would be up while we were arriving. Our hope was that we would be able to glimpse the Chiang Mai countryside; Mountains, rice paddies, and lots of green foliage. Once on the train we found our seats and prepared to depart. In the meantime, there were people milling about, stowing their baggage, finding their seats and an older Thai woman selling chips for “cheap cheap”.

Shortly after sitting down Leah got up to use the restroom but returned thereafter and exclaimed, “I’ll think I’ll wait until we are out of the station”. Why? We wondered. Apparently, the “toilet” was a hole in the floor of the train seeing straight through to the ground. This was the first of many commodes we would encounter that had us saying, “Man, you have got to see the bathroom!”

As the train pulled out of the station, we chatted with the Canadian seated in our section and passed the phone back-and-forth as we played “Heads Up”. At bedtime the train staff appeared, efficiently transformed our seats into beds then disappeared again. We drew our individual curtains shut and closed our eyes to the gentle rocking of the train down the tracks.

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The Thai people like to describe areas of their country by assigning it a temperature – hot, hotter, hottest; Chiang Mai rings in on this scale as hot. Upon our arrival the day was just beginning to warm up, a weight of humidity dripping from the clouds. Our ride, exactly on time, piled us into a van with other travelers and one-by-one dropped us at our respective accommodations. The AirBnb rental we booked wouldn’t allow us to check in until early afternoon, however, we were lucky to be able to drop our bags at the front lobby and head to the Old City to pass the time.

Chiang Mai City is the old capitol of the Lan Na Kingdom and the Old City is surrounded by a moat and wall to protect its citizens from enemies.

We reached this after a short 20 minute walk down a winding road. Once past the gates of the Old City one finds a network of streets in a grid-pattern that is approximately “one cigarette” in length. Meaning, to walk from one corner of the Old City to the next you should be able to smoke exactly one cigarette [This was never verified as none of us actually smoke cigarettes, but if you go to Thailand and smoke, let me know the verdict!]. Compared to the hustle and bustle of cars, buses and tuk tuks outside the gates, the Old City has an air of peacefulness and calm.

In Chiang Mai we did a lot of things. We got Thai body massages [AMAZING], drank more Thai Tea, went on an excursion to the highest point in Thailand at Doi Inthanon [Doi means mountain], visited an organic farm and learned the magic of cooking traditional Thai dishes, bathed and fed elephants, hiked to a waterfall, went swimming in said waterfall, took a yoga class and discovered a local park tucked into the corner of the Old City. We booked all of our day trips through local tourist agencies that are very easy to find. It’s overwhelming because of all the options, but we went with our guts, and most importantly made sure that the elephant sanctuaries did not allowing riding.


Thai Body Massages, Day 1:

The Thai people love massage and it’s easy to see why once you’ve had one. For ~300 baht [or $6] you can get a one hour, full-body massage that incorporates deep tissue kneading and stretching. First you change into these outfits – for newbies, the pants tie in the front! All three of us put our pants on backwards and the massage ladies giggled as they told us to turn them around. Then they started with washing our feet and finished with your massaging our heads. We walked away feeling refreshed, declaring we would have one massage every day until the end of our trip.


Doi Inthanon National Park, Day 2:

Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand and is where the late King Inthanon’s burial site is located. We drove ~1 hour in a bus climbing steeply up the mountain side to reach a pair of waterfalls, Wachriathan and Sirithan. Our tour guide loved our short hikes and explained how as it was durian season, we needed our exercise [Durian is a fruit loaded with sugar. It has a very stinky smell though and can be quite difficult to find in the local markets].

From there we continued our drive further up the mountain, reaching the highest point and the burial site. The further we climbed into the atmosphere the more chilly, windy, and misty the air around us became. A vibe that translated deep respect and importance for the site we were visiting. To the Thai people, the King is of great importance and must be respected at all times, even in memorial.

Next, we drove to the King and Queen’s pagodas surrounded by a botanical gardens. It was a lovely sight, and even lovelier as the clouds began to shift and a view of the valley opened up below.

Our final stop of the day was the Karen Hilltribe village where we played with the most adorable puppy and bought some seriously comfy Thai pants.


Smile Organic Farm Cooking School, Day 3:

Another 1 hour bus ride and we arrived at the farm and cooking classroom. We signed up for an evening course and learned to cook traditional Thai dishes as the sun set over the Chiang Mai mountains. The farm was beautiful, growing everything we needed for our meal. We even got to walk around and pick some fresh herbs and flowers for plating. The Thai chili peppers are so small, so be careful when working with them. I accidentally ate an entire green pepper, thinking it was a green bean – it was SPICY. Anyone that wants to come over and enjoy a Thai dinner is welcome!




Elephant Sanctuary and Waterfall Hike, Day 4:

We were transported out of the city once again, this time to an elephant sanctuary. Elephants used to be employed and owned by families that would clear areas of the forest for farming use. However, the Thai government has outlawed the use of elephants for this type of labor. As a result there are many families that can no longer afford the care necessary to keep an elephant – they eat tremendous amounts of food each day! Hence, elephant sanctuaries. We went to a smaller location compared to some of the more popular retirement facilities, but it was still a great experience. We got to hand-feed bananas to the elephants and bathed them in a small pool on the property. Elephant’s mouths are like vacuums! They will use their trunks to grab banana after banana, and they will keep on eating unless the trainers limit their food.

Last, but not least, we spent a morning sleeping in, sweating it out in a yoga class, and laughing at the park.

Chiang Mai City was a full, bursting at the seams experience.


From hot we were now about to travel to hottest, the Andaman Sea.

Thailand, Part 1

Welcome to Thailand. From the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, to the old capital of Chiang Mai City, and to the hammock-loving life down in the Andaman Sea we traveled with variety.

Here is a photo journal of my trip to Thailand. This will scratch the surface of the laughs we shared and the memories we made. Our list of non-negotiables for this adventure —

  1. Thai Massage
  2. Watch every sunset; watch one sunrise
  3. Drink endless amount of Thai Tea
  4. Kayak in the Andaman Sea
  5. Ride a city bus
  6. Take a yoga class

Now onto the good stuff —


Bangkok, Thailand

 

To start the trip the three of us met up in the great city of Los Angeles. Then we boarded our flights for Asia. Leah bought her tickets separate from Anna and I so we split again at this point with a plan to meet at baggage claim in the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Our travel took us first to Tokyo and then on to BKK. After we arrived in Thailand we found out that Leah’s flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok was delayed 4-hours.

Now that’s some pretty rough news after binge watching movies and cuddling up under airplane blankets for 16 hours, but we took the delay in stride and played some serious rounds of “Spit” [card game] until Leah’s face showed up across the baggage carousel. Reunited once more, we sisters caught a taxi to our Airbnb near the airport for some shut eye.

 

Following some seriously needed sleep (~2 hours) we rounded up our things and jumped on the train to find a hostel in Chinatown. For this trip we made “big picture” plans. Meaning we had a general idea of the places and things we wanted to do, but we didn’t necessarily know where we were going to sleep each night. Thankfully things like HostelWorld exist and we ended up finding a bunch of really great places to stay. Our first home in Thailand was at Loftel 22. A hostel in the heart of Bangkok, it was right on a main road through the city that the bus #1 drove along. This was a highlight of the trip. I enjoyed having some sense of responsibility over our location. In a foreign place you get in a taxi and trust they will take you to the right location with the risk of being scammed, but when we took the bus I felt the wind blow through the windows and listened to the movement of people through the streets on their bikes and cars and tuk tuks. I felt free.

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In Bangkok we rode the #1 from our hostel to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The Grand Palace is home to Wat Phra Krew and the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred of Buddha images. ‘Wat’ means temple and there are a ton in Thailand. At the Grand Palace and at Wat Pho the buildings sparkled as the sunlight reflected off the beautifully tiled roofs. In Wat Pho lies the reclining Buddha, a direct contrast to the Emerald Buddha less than one mile away. People were making such a huge deal about the Emerald Buddha that I figured it must be quite large, however when we stepped into the heart of the temple I had to squint to be able to see him. Ha! Now, the reclining Buddha on the other hand is enormous! He stretches from one length of the temple to the next, laying on his side.


In this buzzing city we found tranquility among the golden Buddha’s. We found beauty in the flowers tucked inside the corners of the temples and peace in the shadows under the Thai sun. For dinner, we stumbled upon a restaurant over looking the Chao Phraya River and toasted to the start of a great trip as the sun set behind Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).


We spent our second full day in Thailand wandering through market places filled with baskets of spices and produce. Winding deep through the fabric of the culture and uncovering what a day-to-day might look like to a Thai. There were cats everywhere. Lounging amidst the peppers and making grumpy faces because they were probably too furry and therefore too hot. We walked through Bangkok on foot after getting kicked out of our Tuk Tuk for striking a hard bargain, but we picked up our #1 bus and it almost felt like we had been there for days.
We even braved some street food and came away with full bellies and happy hearts. At the end of the day, we jumped on a train bound for Chiang Mai, turned our chairs into beds and waved good bye to the big city.

Next up —> Chiang Mai

The Foothills Trail

After two months of preparing and fundraising the hike is over.

11 hours and 40 minutes of walking and my toes have crossed the finish line. It was tough, my hips hurt, my knees hurt, my shoes are tied too tight, I really want to lose the backpack from my shoulders, and there’s pizza at the hotel. 67 people were crazy enough to join me on the trail today. All kinds of people – young and old – laced up their boots to tell cancer to take a hike.

Today, we followed a path that wound through the hills. Past rushing waterfalls and bubbling creeks. We began in the dark before the sun rose with head lamps illuminating the way. While there were threats of copperheads and bears, we had no such luck in catching a glimpse of either one [thank god because I’m terrified].

We did this for all of the children fighting for their lives. For those that have endured the chemotherapy, radiation, infusions, surgeries; for those that were brave, yet lost. These children are far stronger than I for they have walked a unique trail through the halls of the oncology floor.


The Foothills Trail is beautiful. I’ll let these photos do all of the talking —

 

 

Denver Bicycle Party

I LOVE puns. Or nerdy jokes/pickup lines. These are very important facts about myself.

In college, I met one of my closest friends and she just gets this about me. For example, we always send each other those memes with cats on them making chemistry jokes, like this one here and more here

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My sisters also get the pun obsession. We are always trying to come up with creative ways to say something and usually crack ourselves up in the process. [I am a strong believer in the necessity of laughing at your own jokes]

A few weeks ago my older sister Anna was texting me and trying to come up with a name for her birthday bike ride. A quick google search of bicycle puns didn’t help much with the title but gave us an excellent start for the description. The idea of this party was to have a “wheely good time” while biking around Denver, CO to various local breweries*. We would ride until we were “two-tired” to keep going. Get it?

Saturday morning we met up with our squad of riders and kicked off the festivities with champagne shot skis and mimosas. Shot ski technique is simple – try to be the same height as your team, don’t spill.


After pumping up our tires and eating a well-rounded meal of waffles and waffles, we buckled our helmets and headed to the first stop – Cerebral Brewing. Located east of downtown Denver, Cerebral has a neat vibe. They play on the intellectual side of brewing beer and display Petri dishes growing yeast on the inside tables! I’m pretty sure I got the beer – “Muscle Memory” – and I’m pretty sure it was delicious!

The next stop, Black Shirt Brewing! We biked there via City Park and Race Street where our group freely took up the whole street, grooving to good music and laughing because:

bikes + beer + sunshine = fun.

Black Shirt Brewing is located in RiNO with an awesome back patio where barrel sitting is a must. While the kitchen wasn’t open when we were hanging out, they had a GRAND OPENING for their pizza kitchen this week, April 19th. What could be better than a slice of pizza to wash down their beer?

The third and final stop on our beer tour was Ratio Beerworks. Alright, this place is cool. They have a fun vibe and the beer is fantastic. This was also the only stop that I ordered IPA which is my favorite type of beer so that may have influenced that statement….

Anyhow, out back is corn hole, lots of space to gather, and on the curb was a grilled cheese food truck for all of our hunger needs. All in all, a 10/10 day.


Where would you go on a bike tour of your town? Coffee shops, restaurants, breweries, ice cream stands – the possibilities are endless!

*obviously, if you choose to drink and ride your bike – ride responsibly!